,LIMERICK -- About a year after a security guard at Exelon's Limerick Nuclear Generating Station was fired for sleeping on the job, another was fired for altering his driver's license to hide the fact that he had been charged by police with three separate offenses.
The guard fired for sleeping in July 2006 and the one fired in 2007 both worked for Wackenhut Corp., a private security company which previously provided security for all Exelon nuclear power plants but lost the contract in December in the wake of the release of a videotape showing guards sleeping at Peach Bottom nuclear plant in York County.
Currently, Exelon employees guard all 10 of its nuclear power plants, including Limerick Generating Station.
Exelon spokesman David Petersen confirmed the incident, first revealed in an Aug. 1 Nuclear Regulatory Commission letter to Exelon's Chief Nuclear Officer Charles G. "Chip" Pardee.
He said Exelon discovered the problem "one year ago when we learned about a discrepancy with one of the guards."
Petersen said the guard was fired "close to one year ago as a Wackenhut employee."
According to the NRC letter, after learning of the discrepancy, Exelon then performed an audit of all guard driver's licenses and "one security guard's license was found to be altered. During a follow-up of the discovery, it was determined that the security officer had not reported arrests as required by the LGS Security Plan," the letter read.
NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said the guard, whose name was not released, had been cited by police for driving with a suspended or revoked license, driving without a valid inspection and disorderly conduct.
Sheehan said they all occurred as separate incidents between July 2004 and December, 2006, although he said he had no information to indicate the jurisdiction where the infractions took place.
"The company has a program where they are supposed to screen employees and potential employees for criminal backgrounds and the employees are told when they get arrested, they are supposed to self-report and that failure to do so is grounds for discipline or dismissal," Sheehan said.
According to the NRC letter, the guard's attempts to hide the arrests "may have had an impact on his trustworthiness or reliability, thereby causing LGS to be in violation of its security plan."
The letter said the guard had "unescorted access to vital areas of the plant."
During the course of the NRC investigation, which took nearly a year, "the security officer admitted that he did not report the arrests for fear that he would lose his job. The NRC determined that the officer was familiar with the requirements for working in a nuclear power plant and he had signed and dated forms indicating that he had not been arrested even though he was aware of the prior offenses and that such information was required to be reported."
Although the NRC considered handing Exelon a "notice of violation" for the incident, several mitigating circumstances reduced the penalty to a "non-cited violation."
The fact that Exelon found the problem, took action and immediately notified the NRC; and the fact that it was an isolated incident that took place "without management involvement" all convinced the NRC to levy the lesser punishment against the utility.
"Their program worked," Sheehan said of Exelon's investigation into the incident and subsequent actions. "They were doing what they're supposed to do."